The Gems:
South Bass to Hermit

Monday - Saturday, March 14-19, 2011

by Dennis Foster

Posing next to the
Turquoise benchmark.

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

     After tearing my ACL in March of 2010, and having surgery the following May, I have been slow to get back into my regular hiking routine.  In November, my doctor signed off on a hike I planned - four days, starting off down the Bright Angel trail, then out along the Tonto trail to Hermit canyon and then up the Hermit trail to the rim.  I had only done that route before as a day hike (!) but, this time, spent four days on that trek.  [See my story on that hike, written up in the local paper, Back in the Saddle.]

     As spring break approached, my attention turned to another hike, this time covering territory I had not yet done before - the Gems.  So named for the many side canyons named after minerals (Serpentine, Emerald, Quartz, Ruby, Jade Jasper, Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate, Slate and Topaz), this hike follows along the Tonto for many miles, connecting up the South Bass trail with the Hermit trail.  This hike has been getting more and more popular and the route is getting much better defined every year.  I got a permit for four, and was able to get two companions - John Eastwood and his brother, Dan - to join me for 6 days and 5 nights covering this route of approximately 44 miles.  I also wrote up a story of this hike for the local paper, Tonto Trail a 'Gem' of a Hike (reprinted below).

     Our start would take us down the South Bass trail, built by William Wallace Bass, one of the Grand Canyon's first entrepreneurs. He located his camp along the South Rim some 20 miles west of the current Grand Canyon Village. He built this trail from the rim to the river, once described as "the finest in the Canyon." He had mining operations, trails, a home and a garden in the canyon, which were visited by tourists he brought up via stagecoach from Williams.

     We got Bill Ferris to shuttle us out to the trailhead after dropping off a vehicle at the Hermit trailhead.  We headed out of Flagstaff at four in the morning, picked up John & Dan at Hermit's at 6:30 a.m. and reached the South Bass trailhead at 8:30 a.m.  Nobody was manning the gate at the Havasupai boundary, although it looked like there was probably someone there on a regular basis.  Seven other vehicles were at the trailhead.

     For this trip, John made arrangements to rent a satellite phone.  After my accidents the previous two years, it seems that some sort of communications device is prudent (or, past due!).  Our assumption was the it would always work.  But, we couldn't get a signal at the trailhead, and our attempts to check it out over the next few days informed us that it was not reliable.  I think that the Spot device has far superior tracking ability, even though it has limited signaling capability.  However, John thinks that the poor satellite reception may be due to the service we were subscribing to, so there is still some uncertainty here.

     I was able to find two benchmarks on the first day - one at the rim (shown upper right; click to see a bigger image) and one on the trail down on the Esplanade.  [Actually, I think it was as one starts to descend off the Esplanade.]  There was another one on the map, but I missed it.  That was pretty cool, since one of my objectives on this hike was to find some old benchmarks along the trail - consisting of 4-5 foot high rock cairns.  These old benchmarks are on the old maps, and one even had the metal marker as well.

Day 1 - Down the Bass (Monday, March 14):  We were on our way at 9:15 a.m.  We soon began to rue the fact that we had left our crampons behind.  It looked like we would not see much snow as the trail descends through the Kaibab limestone, and that we would soon find ourselves on west-facing slopes that were free of snow.  But, it turned out that we had more than a few steep and slippery spots getting there.  It wasn't continuous, but it took us about 45 minutes to reach the place where there is an Indian ruin above the trail.  We took a break here, and both John and Dan scrambled up to take a look.

     By 11 a.m. we had reached the trail junction at the Esplanade level.  From here, one can hike to the west around Royal Arch Amphitheater.  A few years ago, John and I did a day hike from Pt. Huitzil back to the South Bass this way.  It doesn't take long to cruise across the Esplanade, skirting Mt. Huethawali, and reach the spot where the trail starts to descend through the upper Supai cliffs.  We stopped here at 11:30, after locating the benchmark shown above, and had a snack.  The trail from here shows signs of some improvements that were done a few years ago (as did sections in the Coconino).  The coolness of the start had given way to very pleasant temperatures in the late morning.  We had some overcast which aided in this respect.

     By 12:30 p.m. we had reached the top of the Redwall formation and took a long lunch break there.  Now we were looking for shade, as the temperature was climbing.  At 1:45 p.m. we were on our way, but by 3:00, once below the Redwall, I was starting to feel the effects of some mild heat exhaustion.  We rested for nearly an hour and then trekked on, although I was pulling up the rear.  At 5:30 p.m. we reached the junction with the Tonto trail.  We had planned to hike all the way to the river for our first night, but I was just spent.  Bill Ferris had mentioned finding water pockets just below this spot, so we stopped, and before committing to camp, John scouted down the creek bed to see what he could find.  He found a nice pool and so we were all set.  Meanwhile, we chatted with a passing ranger, who had come down via the Pt. Huitzil route.

Day 1 photos - click on any picture to see a larger image.

Crowded trailhead parking!

A group photo at the South Bass
trailhead - Bill Ferris, Dennis Foster,
an Eastwood & John Eastwood
(left to right)

Dan, John & Dennis.

Snowy & icy near the top.

Looking down to Esplanade.

Dan & John take a break on the
trail, in the Toroweap layer, with
a ruin above.

Remains of barbed wire.

Improved steps in the Coconino
layer, part of park's improvement
of a few years ago.

John treks across Esplanade.

Trail improvements in the upper
Supai, just below the Esplanade.

So. Bass trail through Supai.

Dan and John pose next to an
Agave on the Tonto level.

Looking down to Tonto level.
Day 2 - To Ruby! (Tuesday, March 15):  I slept really well the past night, and for a really long time.  I was totally recouped from the ill effects I was feeling on Monday.  Before turning in, we tried the satellite phone, but no success.  Once up and about, I found that there were signs that Bass must have used this spot.  On the hillside above us were some old wooden planks, and we found some old cans nearby as well.  It makes sense, as this was a nice flat spot and the water pockets might be almost perpetual - certainly there isn't anything else between the river and the rim along this route.

     A bit past nine o'clock we were on our way.  An hour later we stopped for a snack on a stretch of the Tonto facing the Colorado River.  We got good views looking over at the North Bass area, and we also saw some river runners coming downstream.  Soon enough we were on our way to the first of the gems - Serpentine Canyon.

     Exactly three hours after starting we reached Serpentine.  There we found a large group - seven or eight people - who were traveling the same route as us, although they started a day earlier.  They had been quite dispersed the night before, with some at the river here, some at the Tonto level and a couple just a short distance down the Bass trail from us.  We chatted with them briefly, and would see them often pretty much until we passed through Boucher.  Later I found out that one of this group was Bob Bordasch, a regular contributor on the Yahoo Grand Canyon group.

     Although there was a good flow of water here, we passed on it.  I had heard that it might be a bit suspect, and we certainly had enough water to get us to Ruby, our destination for the day.  We lunched here until 1 p.m. and then headed up and out and on our way.

Day 2 photos - click on any picture to see a larger image.

Tonto camp along So. Bass trail.  Old trash nearby camp site. Checking out old camp remains.

On the Tonto; Holy Grail behind.  Looking into Bass canyon. We pose along the Tonto.

Looking down river from the Tonto.
Hotauta canyon across river, as well
as Holy Grail and Powell Plateau.

River runners.

Looking up river from the Tonto.
Scorpion Ridge is in the back-
ground, north of the river.

Rest stop along the Tonto.

Serpentine rapids.  Another party
told us it was an easy walk down.

Serpentine canyon with small
flow of water.

Emerald canyon.

SAR heliocopter.
     I made sure to get a photo of each of the gems so that I would have a record of the time it took us, as well as what some of the more obscure ones look like - some of the names seem to be generally accepted, but not official.  We reached Emerald at 2:15 p.m. and found the bed damp.  Perhaps some digging would turn up some water.  At 3:00 p.m. we rested along the Tonto for a half hour, and then reached Quartz at 4:10 p.m.  At 4:45 p.m. we had reached the turnaround spot on the Tonto, to begin heading into Ruby.  I dropped my pack here and wandered out to the edge of the plateau looking for the "Ruby benchmark."  You can see the "BM" designation on the map fragment to the right.  This is a copy of Harvey Butchart's map, available for on-line viewing from the NAU Special Collections & Archives at Cline Library.

     I found it easily - it is quite tall and stands out well on this scrubby plateau.  It was in great shape and commanded terrific views of the river.  John and Dan were not enthused about walking out here so they rested back at the trail waiting for me to return.  At 5:25 p.m. I was back with them and we reached the bed of Ruby one hour later.  The big group was strewn about the Tonto crossing, but just a short distance up the bed we found a great terrace for our camp.

Crossing through Quartz canyon. 

Looking down Quartz canyon. 

The route to the Ruby benchmark. 

The Ruby benchmark. 

Ruby benchmark. 

Ruby benchmark. 

Ruby benchmark and me. 

Looking down river from benchmark. 

Ruby canyon. 

Day 3 - Turquoise & the Second BM (Wednesday, March 16):  It was a cooler night and we were slow to get up and going this day.  We were out of our sleeping bags at 6:40, and on the trail at 9:50.  Not exactly setting any speed records!  The big group had already left, and we didn't really see them all day.  They headed to Sapphire for their next night, while we only went as far as Turquoise.  I had thought that we would have short hiking days with some time to explore downstream in many of these canyons.  Alas, it was not to be.  Our only real opportunity - which we took advantage of - came when we reached Boucher.

     It was a very pleasant day of hiking.  A slight overcast kept it cool and we were passing through quite a few canyons.  We snacked from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the LeConte Plateau.  There are two places here along the Tonto that have distinct names.  Kind of strange, since I don't really notice anything special about these "plateaus."  From 12:20 to 1:30 we ate our lunch in the bed of Jade Canyon.  At a bit past 2 p.m. we crossed Jasper and noticed that it was cooling off a bit with some overcast.  In the late afternoon we saw our first hikers going the opposite direction - a woman traveling alone and a group of four.  They were all able to confirm that there was water in Turquoise and in Sapphire.

     At 3:00 p.m. we had reached the spot on Shaler Plateau where we can drop our packs and search for the next benchmark.  Dan decided to join me on this side trip.  As usual, it is quite pleasant to stroll along the Tonto without a pack!  We soon reached the edge of the plateau and found our cairn.  It was as big as the Ruby BM, but part of the top was falling apart.  We found an old metal canteen here, and an actual benchmark sunk into the base around the cairn.  We were back on the trail at 3:30 and reached Turquoise an hour later.  We got a nice camp site on a terrace above the bed near the spring where there was plenty of water.  Finally a chance to make dinner by daylight!

Day 3 photos - click on any picture to see a larger image.

Looking down Ruby canyon.

Morning at the Ruby camp. 

Looking back on Ruby canyon.

Lower Ruby. 



Snake along the Tonto.

Looking back at Jade canyon. 

Cairns mark Jasper canyon. 

Looking up Jasper canyon. 

Descending into Jasper canyon. 

Rock on Tonto near Jasper canyon. 

Green Tonto plateau. 


The Turquoise benchmark.

Official benchmark & canteen. 

Dan & Dennis at Turquoise BM. 

Looking up Turquoise canyon
to the South Rim.

Overhang above Turquoise camp.

Pumping water from a pool
below Turquoise spring.

Turquoise camp.

Day 4 - To Slate and Known Territory (Thursday, March 17):  It was an overcast and cool day, with even the threat of rain late in the day.  Hiking along the Tonto Trail under these conditions was quite magical.  We were treated to a desert terrain that was tinged with green grasses and small wildflowers, which won't last for long.  We happily contoured in and out of side canyons, finding ourselves alternately hemmed in by steep Redwall cliffs and, then, gazing nearly a thousand feet down to the mighty Colorado river.

     This day we made a concerted effort to get up early as we needed to cover some 9+ miles to reach Slate.  That turned out to be our longest hiking day, camp-to-camp.  So, we were up before 5 a.m. and on our way at 7:20 a.m.  In just a couple of hours we reached Sapphire and stopped to pump some water.  Knowing it was here, and in good condition, we decided to leave Turquoise a little light.  We pumped and drank a liter each here.

     We left at 10 a.m. and reached Agate at 11:10 a.m., where we stopped for 40 minutes.  At 12:35 p.m. we decided to stop for a lunch break, overlooking the river.  That took about an hour  By 3 p.m. we were rounding the "corner" and beginning to head back into Slate to where the Tonto crosses.  We had a good view of the route that goes to the river here, which I did many years ago.  There is a "monument" here that marks the way through the Tapeats, on the east side of Slate.  It is a bit of a scramble to the creek bed, but then easy going all the way to the river.  At 4 p.m. we reached Slate, where we were back together with the big group.  We found a great spot up the bed a short ways, and nicely flowing water.

     This marked the end of new trail for me.  I hadn't been along the Tonto between here and the South Bass trail before.  So, I broke out the little plastic bottles of wine I had been carrying around and we three celebrated our return to "known territory."  By 7 p.m. we had all turned in for the night.  I had all my stuff either in my tent or under my vestibule, as it was threatening rain.  It never did.  I did encounter one problem that persisted for the rest of the trip - my air mattress was leaking and I had to blow it up twice over the course of the night.  Something to fix after the trip!

Day 4 photos - click on any picture to see a larger image.


Looking back at Turquoise.

Redwall above Turquoise.

On the Tonto trail.

The pinchers of the Scorpion. Looking down Sapphire. Water in Sapphire.

John preps for a rest and water
break in Sapphire.

The group in Sapphire.

A good flow of water in Sapphire.
We filtered a few liters here. 



Crossing Agate canyon.

Looking down Agate canyon. 

Sheep horns in Agate. 

Cactus. Saddle route to Tuna across river. Diana Temple
Lower route into Slate. Upper route into Slate. Slate monument.
Looking down Slate at Tonto level.  Hiking into Slate.  Water in Slate! 
Day 5 - To Boucher & the Colorado River (Friday, March 18):  We missed hearing John's alarm, so we didn't stir from our sleeping bags until 5:40 a.m.  We don't have too many miles to go to get to Boucher (5.7 to the camp sites), but we wanted to go down to the river there, so an early start was necessary.  At 8:30 a.m. we were on the trail, and, as has been the case, well behind the large group!  It was a much nicer day - more sun - and still cool.  There was a lot of haze in the canyon, off to the north and east.  There may have been a fire going on producing this.  We took a snack break for 15 minutes when we were out in front of Marsh Butte at 10 a.m.  By 11:15 we had descended into Boucher, having made pretty good time this morning.

     The campsites are further upstream, and we decided to stop here and drop our packs, repacking day bags, and go to the river.  That turned out to be a good choice.  By noon we had started down the creek bed, and reached the Colorado River at 12:35 p.m.  We had it to ourselves for a while, before the members of the large group ended up there.  We all got into the icy cold water, and then lounged around eating lunch.  We stayed for two hours and then returned to our packs, getting there at 3 p.m.

     Considering that there were going to be quite a few people camped here, and that it is over 9 miles up and out from here, we decided to carry our packs up to the campsites, fix some water, eat our dinner, and then continue up the trail to camp atop the Redwall.  That would shave some 1.7 miles off the distance we would otherwise have to cover in exiting the canyon.  So, up the creek we went.  We spent about an hour and at our dinner spot.  We were getting late afternoon shade, and that was pleasant.  We poked around Boucher's old cabin, and chatted with a couple of the groups already camped here.  By 5:30 p.m., we were all set to go, and after missing the route at first, were on our way up to the Redwall.

     This hike went very well.  We had cool temperatures and shade.  As the sun set we got deeper into twilight.  We were nearly forced to pull out our headlamps, but managed to reach the top of the Redwall, to be greeted by the light of a full moon, just in time.  It was a rough climb up through the Redwall, with lots of big steps and short climbs over rocky surfaces.  Up above the Redwall, the terrain is quite flat and we found a superb spot to set up camp for the night.     

Day 5 photos - click on any picture to see a larger image.


Breaking camp at Slate.

Looking up Slate to Jicarilla Pt.. 

Looking down Slate. 

On our way along the Tonto Raven on a stick. Looking across to Pt. Sublime.


Marsh Butte & Diana Temple.

Looking up the river. 

Boucher canyon. 

John and Dan, with our day packs, head down the creek toward
the Colorado River.

 Boucher Creek.

Heading down Boucher Creek.

Photo opportunity. 

Looking up Boucher Creek. 

The small trickle that is Boucher
Creek adds to the mighty
Colorado River.

Official group photo. 

Unofficial group photo, aka
"the beauty shot."  Or, not.
The water felt great!

Boaters on the river. 

Nearing Boucher's old cabin.

Cabin walls still standing. 

The fireplace in Louis Boucher's old cabin alongside Boucher Creek. 

Shovel and trash in cabin.

Someone want to sleep here?

The Tapeats, Redwall and Coconino tower above the remains of Louis Boucher's old cabin.  The rim of the canyon is Cocopa Point. 

Fixing some water for the trek out. 

John hiking up the Boucher trail as we wend our way through the Tapeats layer.  The destination is the top of the Redwall, still in the sun.

Indian paintbrush. 

Day 6 - To the rim (Saturday, March 19):  It was a cool and breezy night.  In the morning we were all wearing our jackets to keep warm.  We were up around 5 a.m. and were treated to a fabulous sunrise, which was just an added bonus to having decided to come up this far last night.  At 7:30 a.m. we were on our way.

     We crossed the flat area here quickly and were soon climbing up through the Supai.  We had barely started that before the jackets came off.  The climb up through here was quite rough in a few spots where the trail has washed away.  It seems like you are going to go right up the gut here, but the trail turns below the uppermost cliff and goes east quite a ways before ascending a break in the formation.  The picture below, with John stretched across the worst spot, looks scarier than it felt.  But, I knew that the editor of the paper would like it and, of course, they ran that photo with my story!  Two hours after leaving our camp, we had reached the top of the Supai layer, ready to begin the long contour to the Hermit Trail.

     We only went as far as the front of Yuma Point, where we had our first sun, before stopping to take a longer break (from 9:45 to 10:20).  The large group was planning on camping here their last night (this night) and were counting on water in some pockets here.  We looked around and didn't see anything, but Bob later told me that they did find some water here.  Two hours after leaving here we reached the trail heading up to Dripping Springs.  Along the way, a group of four, that had camped down at Boucher, passed by us.  I guess we're not as fast as we were years ago!

     At 1:10 we reached the Hermit Trail, where we took a long, forty minute, break.  It was getting quite cool and had been very windy all morning.  It only took us 10 minutes to reach the Waldron Trail junction and we reached the rim at 3:10 p.m., which pleased us.  We cleaned up a bit and drove over to the village where we had dinner at the AZ Room of the Bright Angel Lodge.

Day 6 photos - click on any picture to see a larger image.

Breaking camp at sunrise.

Sunrise in the canyon. 

John finishes up some packing. 

All packed up and ready to go.
The morning was on the cold side
and I was all bundled up.

Trail along the top of the Redwall. 

Looking down Travertine canyon. 

The head of Travertine canyon. 

We camped below Whites Butte. 

 Nearing the upper Supai cliff. 

Scrambling up a rough spot. 

The trail through the Supai was
deteriorating badly in some spots.
Here, we look through a hole forming to expose the supporting log.

Trail bolt still in place.

Dan climbs up a steep pitch. 

Looking up at Yuma Point. 

Looking up into Hermit basin. 

On the Hermit Trail, we took a little
break at the spot in the Coconino
where there are fossil footprints*.

Looking down at the river. 

Dripping Springs trail junction. 

     At the end of the hike, I did a bit of inventory and here's what I found:
  • I lost zero weight!!  Unexpected and disappointing!
  • My pack weighed 34 pounds at the end.  Now, what was it at the beginning?  Low 40's I think.
  • I had almost 1.5 pounds of trash.
  • I had almost 1.5 pounds of unused food.
  • I had almost 1.5 pounds of items never used (rope, shower, handwarmers, et al.)
  • I had 1.75 liters of water remaining (i.e., 3.5 lbs.).

     Also, we saw a Park Service helicopter flying up and down the canyon on days 2-4.  We figured that they were looking for someone, and were right.  A guy in an ultralight disappeared into the canyon on the Friday before we started.  I found a map of the routes they covered, shown to the right.  Now, I don't have a problem with this, but I find it at least ironic that all of this activity is excluded from the "natural quiet" rules that the park service is trying to impose (well . . . as directed by Congress).  BTW, they haven't found him . . . yet.

* This reference to "fossil footprints" replaces an earlier reference to "dinosaur tracks."  Long time canyoneer (I think I can call him that) Drifter Smith sent a note to me pointing that out and I had a Homer Simpson moment.  I have long known that the earliest rocks in the canyon (Kaibab limestone) actually predate the dinosaurs.  Yet, I think I have always referred to these tracks as dinosaur tracks.  Maybe it is because I don't have a good grasp for the full story of life on Earth and am fuzzy on what came before dinosaurs besides things like brachiopods.  But, I also own a copy of "Fossil Footprints from the Grand Canyon," written by Charles Gilmore and published through the Smithsonian Institution in 1926.  The first line reads, "Tracks of extinct quadrupeds were first discovered in the Grand Canyon in 1915 ..."  So, fossil footprints they are, and, if pressed, I may remember the phrase, "extinct quadrupeds," but I wouldn't count on it.  I have also changed this reference in my 2005 report on a day hike to Dripping Spring!

Appendix - Tonto Trail a "Gem" of a hike
Arizona Daily Sun
April 18, 2011

Among the first of the Grand Canyon entrepreneurs was William Wallace Bass. He located a camp along the South Rim some 20 miles west of the current Grand Canyon Village. He built a trail from the rim to the river, once described as "the finest in the Canyon." He had mining operations, trails, a home and a garden in the canyon, which were visited by tourists he brought up via stagecoach from Williams.

In mid-March, with companions Dan and John Eastwood, I started down the historic Bass trail as part of a six-day hike through "The Gems." So-called due to the mineral names of these many side canyons -- Serpentine, Emerald, Quartz, Ruby, Jade, Jasper, Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate and Slate.

Accessing the trailhead requires a 20-mile drive over poorly maintained dirt roads. During a snowy winter, these roads can be impassable until April or even May. During the summer, hiking here can be grueling, or even fatal. Fall hiking can be pleasant, but there is more reliable water in the spring. We found, and camped at, water for the first four nights of our hike.


We got an early start from Flagstaff and, with the assistance of hiking buddy Bill Ferris, we dropped off a car at the Hermit's Rest trailhead and he shuttled us to the Bass trailhead. Shortly after 9 in the morning, we were starting down the trail in this remote region.

The weather was quite spectacular during this hike. It was generally warm during the day and not uncomfortably cold at night. The first night we camped near the junction with the Tonto Trail, which is the main route that moves east and west through the heart of Grand Canyon. In poking around a nearby overhang, we found distinct signs that Bass had some kind of structure here servicing his trips in and out of the canyon.

For the next two days we set modest daily targets of about 6 miles each. Partly that was due to the desire to camp at water. But, also, as I am still rehabbing from an operation to replace the ACL in my left knee, sustained in a hiking accident a year earlier, I wanted to keep the itinerary safe and simple.


Hiking along the Tonto Trail under these conditions was quite magical. We were treated to a desert terrain that was tinged with green grasses and small wildflowers, which won't last for long. We happily contoured in and out of side canyons, finding ourselves alternately hemmed in by steep Redwall cliffs and, then, gazing nearly a thousand feet down to the mighty Colorado river.

One of my objectives for this hike was to locate a couple of old benchmarks on the Tonto Plateau. These are not shown on newer canyon maps. I suspected that they would be giant rock cairns and I was not disappointed. Each one stood over 4 feet tall and were a bit too wide for me to reach around. They were used by early parties surveying the canyon. At one of these benchmarks we found an old metal canteen that must have been sitting there for many decades.

On our fifth day, we finished hiking through the "Gems" and reached Boucher Creek by noon. We dropped our packs and followed the small creek down for our first, and only, visit to the river. The water was cold, as usual, but enormously refreshing. We had intended to stay at the creek that night, our last. But it is 9 tough miles up and out from here, so we decided to fix an early dinner and get a jumpstart on these miles.


The trail up from Boucher Creek is steep and unremitting for two miles, until you reach the top of the Redwall formation. We ground our way through this section and topped out in deep twilight, but greeted by an almost full moon. There we camped. At 5 the next morning, we stirred from our sleeping bags and prepared for an early start. The trail climbs up through the Supai rock layer and there are places here where the footing is quite precarious. After that it is clear sailing to the trailhead at Hermit's Rest.

We topped out on this windy and very cool day at 3 in the afternoon, with plenty of time to clean up and enjoy a fine meal at the Bright Angel Lodge before heading home. Later, words from a poem Bass wrote a hundred years ago wistfully stirred in my head, "Will you join me ... for a roam through wonderland?"

Yes, I will.

Dennis Foster has spent more than 300 nights camped in the Grand Canyon backcountry since 1977 and celebrated his first hike of the Gems.

For More Information:

- Backcountry Permits: Find information on permits and trip planning at

-- Grand Canyon: To learn more about visiting the Grand Canyon go to Or, you can find information at

-- Bass and Boucher Trails: For basic information on these trails, there are many trail guides available. Among the most readily available is Scott Thybony's "Official Guide to Hiking Grand Canyon." You can find this at area bookstores, or online, at the Grand Canyon Association website.

-- To read more on W. W. Bass, read George Wharton James' In and Around the Grand Canyon, published in 1900. Available online at Google books.

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